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Interim England manager Gareth Southgate revealed he has been in contact with predecessor Sam Allardyce following his dismissal, and hailed Wayne Rooney’s leadership skills after deciding to keep him on as Three Lions captain. 

The under-21s manager delivered his first press conference as temporary boss of the senior side on Monday and was quizzed on whether he’d spoken to Allardyce, who was caught in a newspaper sting and parted ways with England after just 67 days. Sky Sports News HQ shared his response:

Per Matt Hughes of the Times, the 46-year-old, when asked about the nature of football following a week of revelations—of which Allardyce was just the firstsaid:

Southgate was also drawn on Rooney:

Per the Mirror‘s Hamish Mackay, he added on Rooney: “He was an incredible emergence on the scene. Without being disrespectful, the character I saw in front of me last week is completely different. There was a stark contrast. I couldn’t have been more impressed with the discussion we had.”

Mackay reported the former England star also spoke of his appointment to the role of manager, and believes he was the best candidate to step in after Allardyce was filmed telling undercover reporters there are ways to circumvent the FA’s rules on third-party ownership of players:

“Things happen so quickly. The situation developed so quickly. When you’re in football you get used to that. It was a moment to step up and put myself forward as the leader of this group. I was in the best position to take them forward.”

According to Simon Peach of the Press Association, he added:

However, he would not be drawn on whether he would consider taking the position on a full-time basis:

Southgate reportedly turned down the chance to take over temporarily after Roy Hodgson was sacked in the summer.

Ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers at home to Malta on Saturday and away at Slovenia on Tuesday, Southgate addressed his surprise inclusion of Stoke City’s Glen Johnson in his squad, citing the need for more experience:

The 32-year-old has accrued 54 caps for the Three Lions but has not featured for his country since 2014.

Youth will be given a chance under Southgate as well, though, as he called up Manchester United stars Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rasford. He believes the duo’s form has warranted their selection:

Peach and the Times‘ Henry Winter were impressed by the former Middlesbrough boss and his handling of the press conference:

Winning over the media is half the battle in the case of being England manager, and Southgate has made a strong start in that regard.

Whether he’s to keep the job permanently or is just there to ensure the team continue their march toward qualification for the 2018 World Cup while a new manager is found, England’s performance and results in the next four games will be vital.

Against Malta at Wembley Stadium, England should have little problem winning comfortably, but Tuesday’s trip to Slovenia could prove tricky—Southgate will need to get his selection and tactics right to ensure three points there.

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